Throughout his sixty-plus year career, Maynard Ferguson featured numerous sidemen on varying arrangements of jazz standards, covers of pop hits and original songs. As a young man, he performed with such legends as Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie and Stan Kenton. As a bandleader, his stage band and studio guests included a virtual who's who of jazz, including Bob James, David Sanborn, Nathan East, Stanley Clarke, George Benson and Steve Gadd. Born in Canada but living in the United States for much of his life, Ferguson has done it all. Big bands and small ensembles, he's played straight jazz, ...read more
In baseball parlance, one could say he went down swingin'. In July, 2006, less than a month before his passing at age seventy-eight, trumpeter Maynard Ferguson led Big Bop Nouveau and a handful of the group's notable alumni into a studio in Englewood, NJ, to record what is arguably his finest album in years, and one that presumably no one, least of all Maynard himself, suspected might be his last.
On the other hand, we'll never know if Ferguson may have had a premonition of some sort, as he clearly pulled out all the stops, not only playing remarkably well ...read more
In August 2005, when Maynard Ferguson and Big Bop Nouveau recorded MF Horn VI at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, no one could have known or even suspected that the trumpet legend would pass away one year later, shortly after a series of sold-out concerts at New York City's Blue Note nightclub and another recording session with BBN, this one a studio date in Englewood, New Jersey.
There's a saying about cowboys and westerners who lived life to the fullest that they died with their boots on. Maynard Ferguson died almost literally with his horn to his lips, which ...read more
Maynard Ferguson grinned with delight as the sounds of Blue Birdland roared from a big band of 14 trumpeters. When the chart ended, he climbed on stage and declared, Finally, somebody got it right! We don't need those funny instruments like saxophones and trombones!
MF's classic wit and charisma were bonus elements of the four-day production in 2004 of Stratospheric: A Maynard Ferguson Big Band Alumni Reunion. MF reminisced energetically during panel discussions and was readily accessible to chat with admirers before and after events.
That October weekend in Los Angeles was high-note heaven for nearly 1,000 fans from around ...read more
I remember the first time I saw Maynard Ferguson in concert. It was spring 1982, the Cross & Sword Amphitheater in St. Augustine, Fla. It was my first time seeing a live jazz act, and the program left me feeling very satisfied. I knew I was onto something, although that could have been said the first time I played Conquistador (Columbia, 1977), Maynard's best-selling album which featured the top 30 hit Gonna Fly Now. The band, I would learn later, was typical of Maynard's ensembles. Trumpet section leader Stan Mark was the only musician I knew from the ...read more
On Thursday morning, as Betty and I finished packing for our second trip to the Prescott, Arizona, Jazz Summit (more about that later), the e-mails started to arrive. The first was a rumor; the second confirmed the unwelcome news. Maynard Ferguson, a trumpeter whose breathtaking virtuosity, especially in the higher register, epitomized the word incredible, had passed away at eight o'clock Wednesday evening (August 23) in Ventura, California. He was seventy-eight years old.
At times like these, we writers are counted on to offer some perspective, insight, words of wisdom or what-have-you. Well, there's nothing I can say about Maynard ...read more
The two albums on this CD reissue from Vocalion were recorded during trumpeter Maynard Ferguson's English period (1968-72). It was a time when Ferguson was trying a number of new things, some of which worked, and some of which didn't. The first eight tracks are from MF Horn 2, the others from The Ballad Style of Maynard Ferguson.
As one can readily hear on MF Horn, Ferguson had turned away from more traditional jazz and popular standards and toward such more recent pop songs as James Taylor's Country Road, John Lennon's Mother, Isaac Hayes' Theme from Shaft, David Clayton-Thomas' Spinning ...read more